Yemen: Alkarama denounces humanitarian and human rights violations in report to Human Rights Council ahead of 2019 Universal Periodic Review
(Geneva, July 13, 2018) – On June 21, 2018, Alkarama submitted its shadow report to the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in the context of the third cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Yemen, scheduled for January 2019.
In its report, Alkarama highlighted issues including the lack of impartiality and effectiveness of the national commission of inquiry established in 2015 to investigate violations committed by all parties to the conflict, the failure to create a national human rights institution, as well as the lack of cooperation with UN human rights mechanisms including the Committee against Torture (CAT). Furthermore, it proposed several recommendations to enhance Yemen’s compliance with its obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law.
Alkarama’s report was particularly focused on the violations committed against the civilian population by the various parties to the ongoing conflict, the breaches of international humanitarian law committed by the U.S. and UAE forces in their counter-terrorism operations, and the systematic use of arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances and torture, especially against journalists, human rights defenders and political activists.
Violations against the civilian population by all parties to the conflict
Alkarama reported that, since the outbreak of the war, violations of international humanitarian law have been committed by all parties to the conflict, resulting in massive civilian casualties. In particular, Alkarama recalled that the Saudi-led coalition deliberately targeted civilians by conducting airstrikes on residential areas, markets, schools and hospitals. Additionally, it raised the issue of the different types of banned cluster munitions used by the coalition forces.
The report also highlighted the indiscriminate attacks against densely populated civilian areas and medical facilities carried out by the Houthi-Saleh forces, as well as their use of antipersonnel landmines and the targeted attacks against civilians by snipers located in areas under the control of militias affiliated to Houthi forces.
Furthermore, Alkarama stressed how the already dire situation of the civilian population dramatically worsened as a result of both the blockades imposed by the Saudi-led coalition, which severely affected the import of vital goods for the civilian population, and the protracted sieges such as the one on the city of Taiz, which has been carried out by the Houthi forces since April 2015. The combination of these grave breaches of international humanitarian law turned the Yemeni armed conflict into what is currently the largest humanitarian crisis worldwide.
Counter-terrorism operations by the U.S. and UAE forces
The report further recalled the violations of international humanitarian law committed in the counter-terrorism campaign carried out by the U.S. with the assistance of UAE forces and the consent of the Yemeni government. Alkarama noted that not only has the U.S. continued its campaign of drone strikes against suspected members of Al Qaeda, but it has also conducted joint raids with the UAE, in which a number of civilians have been executed.
Arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance and torture
In its report, Alkarama highlighted that the practices of arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance and torture remain widespread in the country, being carried out by all parties to the conflict.
Particularly, Alkarama raised the issue of the numerous unofficial or secret detention facilities and prisons present throughout the country. While many of them are under the control of Houthi-affiliated forces, at least two of these unofficial or secret detention facilities are run by the UAE, and others are run by UAE-backed Yemeni security forces. Prisoners in these detention facilities are often subjected to arbitrary detention, torture, and enforced disappearance.
Moreover, Alkarama reported how journalists, human rights defenders, and other individuals with a real or perceived political affiliation are particularly subjected to the practices of arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance, and extrajudicial execution by both Houthi-Saleh forces and pro-government forces, in an attempt to stifle peaceful dissent and freedom of expression.
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